Sugar Bowl seeks to grow support on milestone anniversary
NEW ORLEANS – Tradition and college sports have long been connected, but if we’ve learned anything in the last few years on the athletic landscape, that’s becoming less and less of a partnership.
As the Sugar Bowl prepares to host its 90th edition on the night of Jan. 1, its place as a New Year’s tradition on the college football calendar doesn’t ensure the future.
At a luncheon commemorating the anniversary Wednesday on the turf of the Caesars Superdome, Sugar Bowl CEO Jeff Hundley reminded the audience about the new disconnect between sports and tradition. His example: the Pac-12 Conference, more than 100 years old, and will be down to two members by next summer.
The business side of college sports continues to follow the money, and a new round of the College Football Playoff sits on the horizon, Hundley, his staff and the volunteers who make up the Sugar Bowl committee realized the status quo wasn’t good enough.
“It hasn’t been in our DNA to beat our chest about the contributions we make around the community,” Hundley said. “For better or worse, that’s going to change, starting now.”
The Sugar Bowl generates a $200 million economic impact annually and supports dozens of local and regional sports initiatives.
The bowl committee launched a new website Wednesday, SupportTheSugarBowl.com, with four ways for the community to assist in their efforts to “keep New Orleans sweet” and remain a major player in the college football landscape – and by extension, the landscape of New Orleans sports.
*Tickets: While this year’s 90th Allstate Sugar Bowl is already a sellout, the expanding format of the College Football Playoff will make it more difficult for fans to travel to the games, putting a larger responsibility on host committees to sell tickets.
The Sugar Bowl has hosted events on Labor Day weekend the last two years – the LSU-Florida State game in the Dome last year and the inaugural Louisiana Country Kickoff this year. It expects to host another country concert next year, and Hundley said his team is speaking to LSU about the possibility of another game in New Orleans.
*Sponsorships: The Sugar Bowl is seeking more sponsorships from small businesses in the region to help spread their message.
Unlike its competitors, who can draw from a vast pool of larger companies, the Sugar Bowl can tap into only three Fortune 1000 businesses in Louisiana.
*Supporting Teachers: The Sugar Bowl understands the value of growing the education system in New Orleans and beyond, and in conjunction with the College Football Playoff Foundation, has committed $1 million per year to support teachers. Contributions are welcome to assist those efforts.
*Scholarships: Through its partnership with the National Football Foundation and an effort for female student-athletes through the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame ceremony, the Sugar Bowl has awarded more than $100,000 in college scholarships annually to deserving scholar-athletes. Similarly to the teacher initiative, contributions can be made to support these scholarships.
The panel of speakers at the event included Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungessser and LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine.
RELEASE: Allstate Sugar Bowl Celebrates 90th Anniversary, Delivers Call to Action
It’s Time to Keep New Orleans Sweet
NEW ORLEANS (October 11, 2023) – The Allstate Sugar Bowl welcomed members of the business community to the field of the Caesars Superdome to celebrate the organization’s 90th anniversary on Wednesday afternoon.
The event was not only to celebrate 90 years of excellence from the Sugar Bowl, but it also served as a call to action to the community as the Bowl officially kicked off its “Keep New Orleans Sweet” campaign. The college football world has experienced rapid and dramatic change in recent years, and the college football postseason has had some of the most drastic of those changes with the College Football Playoff (CFP), which was instituted in 2014, expanding from four teams to 12 teams next season.
The Sugar Bowl is a CFP Semifinal this year (Monday, January 1) and will be a Playoff Quarterfinal following the 2024 and 2025 seasons (both games also scheduled for New Year’s Day). However, after the upcoming three games, the future is undetermined. The Bowl aims to remain at the pinnacle of college football as a host of CFP games. That distinction is also expected to be critical to New Orleans’ hopes of hosting future national championship games.
To remain at the top, full buy-in from the New Orleans community will be needed – this includes ticket purchases, financial support and event participation.
“Costs to participate at the highest level of postseason college football have risen dramatically over the past couple of years, and we expect them to go even higher as the College Football Playoff expands next year,” said Sugar Bowl CEO Jeff Hundley. “Through good business practice and support from national sponsors, we’ve been able to compete up until now. Going forward we’re going to need the support of the local community as well if we’re to remain at the top and be able to fund the community programming the organization has provided for the past 90 years.”
Wednesday’s event was emceed by prominent community member Mark Romig, also a past president of the Sugar Bowl Committee. He spoke on the long history of elite players, coaches, and teams – including 29 national championship teams – that have been a part of the Sugar Bowl’s history. He also introduced the “Keep New Orleans Sweet” campaign’s introductory video.
“Beignets, snowballs, bananas foster, pralines and the best college football in the country, where would New Orleans be without its Sugar?” Romig asked.
“Keep New Orleans Sweet” along with “Where would New Orleans be without its Sugar” will be included on various activations around New Orleans and the state over the coming months to emphasize the Bowl’s need for assistance in order to compete at the highest level of college football and to continue to be able to do the important things it has done in the community for the past 90 years.
In its first nine decades, the Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 102 Hall of Fame players, 52 Hall of Fame coaches and 21 Heisman Trophy winners.
Every year, the Sugar Bowl supports the community through the hosting and sponsorship of local sporting events, recognition events and scholarships. In the last decade, the Sugar Bowl has hosted nearly 500 amateur athletic events, honored thousands of local athletes, donated over $4 million to the support of teachers, and given away over $800,000 in scholarships. In the new CFP era, the Sugar Bowl has hosted three College Football Playoff semifinals and the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship, an event made possible by a nearly $6 million contribution by the Sugar Bowl Committee.
Additionally, the Bowl hosted a season-opening kickoff game in 2022, and even a music event with the legendary Garth Brooks. Drawing nearly one million fans into the region to experience Louisiana culture, all Sugar Bowl events over the past 10 years have generated an economic impact of nearly $2.4 billion and nearly $200 million in direct tax revenue.
Speakers at the anniversary event included community leaders who have worked with, supported and benefited from the efforts of the Sugar Bowl. The speakers were Billy Nungesser, Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor; Eddie Bonine, the executive director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association; Dana Peterson, the chief executive officer of New Schools for New Orleans; Alex Jarrell, the chief innovation officer of New Schools for New Orleans; Tiffany Aidoo, New Orleans program officer for Laureus Sport for Good USA; and Kennedy Smith, the vice president of marketing for Caesars Entertainment.
Those looking to support the Sugar Bowl are invited to visit www.SupportTheSugarBowl.com.
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…